Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of Four, Triumph of Sherlock Holmes, Murder at the Baskervilles, The Woman in Green
This product has four "Sherlock Holmes" movies from the 1930s where Arthur Wontner played the most famous fictional detective. Here is a brief description. Read the reviews for each movie. Arthur Wontner best resembled the old illustrations for the Sherlock Holmes stories.
The Sign of Four, 1932 film
This was adapted from the story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Jonathan Small tells of a treasure buried in a fort in Agra. Major Sholto and Captain Morstan search for the jewels. Will there be a conflict? Retired Major Sholto reads about the escape of Jonathan Small. He tells his two sons of his secret then collapses. Mary Morstan owns a florist shop and gets a strand of pearls! Two men invade the Sholto home to search for the treasure. Mary Morstan's safe is cracked. A letter calls her to a meeting, she is warned against going to the police. The ending was changed from the original novel, which had a more ironic ending. It is one of the best of the Holmes films. Ian Hunter is the best "Doctor Watson", a young man around thirty. There is subtle criticism of British Imperialism and its looting of the treasures of India.
The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes, 1935 film
This is based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Valley of Fear". Sherlock Holmes is moving out for his retirement. Professor Moriarity wishes him "a pleasant and permanent retirement". Moriarity is offered $50,000 for a job. Inspector Lestrade visits with news of a murder at Birlstone Castle. Holmes and Watson go there to investigate. The body of Mr. Douglas has a brand on the arm. The murderer took the wedding ring from Mr. Douglas' finger. Lestrade questions the people there. [Does the wife seem sad?] That brand is the mark of the "Scourers", a secret society. Widow Douglas tells their history in America. She met Jack Murdock in America. What about the missing dumbbell? Barker and Mrs. Douglas laugh over their behavior. At night Holmes solves the crime by finding a missing person. This is not the real history of the 1876 Coal Wars in the Anthracite region. This clever story shows how easy it is to jump to a wrong conclusion when you depend on circumstantial evidence. Holmes does not make this mistake. [How could a private detective amass a great fortune to buy a castle in England?]
Murder at the Baskervilles, 1937 film
Holmes and Dr. Watson will take a vacation at the Baskerville estate. Inspector Lestrade tells of his new job. He says "Silver Blaze" will win the race. Mr. Standard visits Moriarity he needs to win to avoid bankruptcy. It costs £10,000 to fix the race. The owner of "Silver Blaze" guards him carefully. Holmes demonstrates his powers of observation at the Baskervilles (blue chalk). Mr. Trevor visits Straker the trainer. The next morning they find "Silver Blaze" missing! Colonel Ross asks Holmes for help, Lestrade is with him. A dog barks as they approach. Holmes asks for an old horseshoe. They find the body of Straker out on the moor. Where is the horse? Holmes follows the tracks. He talks to Silas Brown, the owner of a competitive horse, who will do as Holmes says. Holmes has his plans. Who bought Straker's promissory notes? The dog always sleeps outside at night. Holmes questions Mrs. Straker. Some of the sheep have gone lame. What was the curious incident of the dog in the night? Curry disguises the taste of opium. Holmes explains the facts to Colonel Ross. The chief clue was the surgeon's scalpel. [The story "Silver Blaze" was used for this movie. Note how minor details can add up to solve a mystery.]
The Woman in Green, 1945 film
At "Scotland Yard" the Police Commissioner complains about a series of unsolved murders. They call on Sherlock Holmes. Who cut off the right forefinger on those young women? What was the motive? Gregson and Holmes see somebody in the bar. Who is that lady? Holmes wonders what the four victims had in common? Gregson tells of another victim. Sir George Fenwick returns to Miss Morrow, he has forgotten things from last night! A man shows up, he claims to be a witness to Sir George's activities. Holmes observes a young woman arrive outside; she is the daughter of Sir George. She tells Holmes what she found in the garden. When they return Sir George will not answer any questions. He has a match book in his hand. Sir George withdrew £10,000 before he died. Holmes suspects a clever criminal is behind these deaths. Holmes has figured out the scheme, he just needs evidence. Watson goes out to close the window on the house across the street. They catch a sniper! Holmes and Watson visit the Mesmer House. Hypnotism is used in place of a local or general anesthetic. Dr. Watson doesn't believe in hypnotism. [A comic interlude.] Holmes meets that young woman [as he planned]. Lydia offers him a sedative and tries to hypnotize him. Will Moriarity trick Holmes into a suicide? Will Watson and Gregson arrive in time? Will there be a sequel? Is Holmes a "difficult subject"? [Those who read the short stories about Sherlock Holmes will recognize parts of this story.]